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Knowledge Broker Horses connects students, teachers and businesses

Rowie Rooth, a student on the Animal Husbandry & Animal Care study programme, graduated as a ‘Knowledge Broker Horses’. “It means that for a period of 6 months, I acted as an important link between HAS University of Applied Sciences and business,” she explains. “I made lasting connections and strengthened the network. A key part of this role was that I could make a difference for students who want to work in the horse industry.” Because the position of Knowledge Broker Horses was vacant for half a year before Rowie started her graduation project, she took on part of the role together with fellow student, Annelore Teurlings, already at the beginning of the academic year. She took to the job instantly like a duck to water.

What do you want to learn as a student?

The first half of the year Rowie participated in the ‘Animal Specialist’ pilot module. This is a new form of training that focuses on what students themselves want to learn, and involves strong connections with business. When Rowie started this module, she suggested combining it with the role of Knowledge Broker Horses. “A Knowledge Broker does 3 things,” explains Rowie. “A quarter of the time is spent on an individual assignment; another quarter on a strategic assignment together with the 3 other Knowledge Brokers (Dairy, Poultry and Pigs), and the rest of the time is spent on establishing networks and connections. Annelore and I were given the opportunity, within the ‘Animal Specialist’ module, to take on the network part.”

Mystery shoppers

This felt so good that Rowie applied to graduate as Knowledge Broker, and was accepted. But what does ‘establishing networks and connections’ entail, exactly? “For example, I contacted Eisma,” Rowie explains. “Eisma is a major publisher of horse magazines. I sent out students as mystery shoppers to a large number of tack shops to evaluate these for the ‘equestrian shop of the year’ vote. Those students learned a lot about retail. Eisma was very enthusiastic about our collaboration, which will now be continued in several areas, for instance through guest speakers, internships and a business assignment.”

Creating added value

This is a remarkable achievement, according to HAS lecturer, Monique van Hal, who praises the way in which Rowie fulfilled the Knowledge Broker role. “Rowie managed to inspire and motivate people to such an extent that it resulted in valuable new connections for HAS University of Applied Sciences. She delivered added value to all stakeholders. Thanks to her efforts and insights our relationships with business have strengthened and we have gained valuable knowledge to improve our study programmes. Her strength lies in the combination of her own specialisation (marketing) with the sector she is passionate about: horses. This makes her professional skills much broader than horses alone, and enables her to add real value to the development of businesses and the industry.”